Gabi over at Iggi & Gabi had an idea way back when: what if, instead of going to school to get an MFA in writing, there was a way to create the same sort of MFA experience online, for free? Technically, you can put together any program in your spare time that will give you both the knowledge and experience of a real degree. But that requires a working understanding of how those programs operate and how to learn. Plus, there’s no denying that the community of an actual classroom gives you much-needed motivation and a clearly defined schedule of assignments. So while you can put together a similar program yourself, you will have to compensate for those missing factors and the very real knowledge and experience a professor will bring to the class.
That said, if you already know how to learn, the DIY MFA is a fantastic idea and opportunity for those of us who didn’t go the MFA route in college or simply don’t have the time to. The scheduling and community which Gabi brings to her DIY program are integral to the individual’s success. And why do I keep talking like I know everything about her program, when it’s only just starting? Well, Gabi’s done it in the past. I missed out on that iteration, but she’s starting up the wagon again and this time I’m hopping on at the beginning.
Join me, if you’d like, and with a little bit of time every day, we can strengthen our writing and our understanding of the craft.
This is our first weekend prompt, an analysis of where we are starting from. I’ve filled out mine below. If you decide to come along for the ride and post your own questionnaire on your blog, feel free to share the link in the comments. 🙂
1) Do you read regularly? If so, how many books per year, on average?
This is an aspect of my life I’ve been focusing more on since graduating. I love books, but I never read more than a handful for my own benefit each year. Last year I read 26, but this year I have a goal of 40 which I am about to pass. I am lucky to have a bus commute to and from work in which I squeeze most of my reading, but I’m trying to make room for lazy Sundays spent reading as well.
2) What are your Top 3 preferred subjects or genres?
Ooh, I love fantasy and I’m really bad about almost exclusively reading it. I also enjoy sci-fi and horror and do not distinguish between adult and YA in my selections.
3) List the last 5 books/magazines you’ve read.
I’m almost finished with Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. Before that I read Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin, and CryoBurn by Lois Bujold. So: Fantasy, fantasy, lit, fantasy, sci-fi.
1) How long have you been writing regularly?
Since fifth or fourth grade, with a brief lull during college. I would usually go through the year in spurts, sometimes not writing for weeks, sometimes writing ten pages a night for several days. I’m trying to even that out now with my 1k/day goal.
2) Do you have a project you’re focusing on? Or are you experimenting with various things?
I have a number of WIPs that I’ve started but never completed and I’m trying to tuck a few of those away before starting on new ideas. I would also like to experiment with super short short stories and short stories in general.
3) How often do you write? Is your writing schedule regular or sporadic?
With 1k/day, it’s now every day. But only recently. Before, I would have a good spell of writing days followed by a month or two drought, which was unacceptable.
1) Do you belong to a writing group or have writer colleagues who read your work?
No, and I would like to change this. In the past, I’ve sent my finished pages to friends who also happen to write for feedback, but I would love to have a committed writing group.
2) Do you participate in workshops at conferences or other live or online events?
Also a no, which I would like to change.
3) Do you take time to evaluate the feedback and implement what resonates with you into your work?
What feedback I have received, yes. I may overevaluate. 🙂
1) Do you have writer friends?
I do. And I need to pick their brains, which I do not currently do.
2) Do you engage with other writers either face-to-face or online?
This is also something I am working on.
3) Are you a member of any writing associations?
Not at this time.
So right now, I spend enough time writing and enough time reading, but I really would like to focus on breaking into the writer’s community and finding a way to get myself some reliable and critical feedback.